Day 03 – Nakhon Sawan to Mae Sot

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Elevation Profile

We all slept well, having enjoyed the little cottages we stayed in – we rented all three in this photo.

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We had breakfast at a hotel in town, and Judy’s boiled eggs were presented in a coffee cup – only lightly boiled.

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The area we travelled through this day was all flat, except for the last hour or so. It was beautiful scenery, despite the flat landscape.

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Needless to say, we didn’t eat here. Some people have the most unfortunate names – and if you don’t speak English, how would you ever know?

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After a great lunch, we looked at some of the ruins of the former Thai capital – Sukhothai.

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On our drive through the mountain range to Mae Sot, we saw this truck that used the emergency lane to stop – I guess his brakes failed. The system works.

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A quick look across the border into Myanmar at sunset – Myanmar is on the far side of the bridge. For the past few months, Myanmar residents have not been able to come across the river (compare our prior trip to this location), due to political issues. It is rumoured that the agreement allowing this to happen wasn’t negotiated before the recent elections, and therefore it is now not permitted.

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We had dinner in the same place as three years ago, and nothing much had changed in this restaurant, which is surprising, given that so much else has changed. There are so many new building on the road where this restaurant is located.

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This is the provincial government building. Looks very pretty at night – though I can’t help but think that most Australian politicians wouldn’t support a purple building.

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Day 02 – Bangkok to Nakhon Sawan

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After a great breakfast, our first stop was the Rose Garden Riverside, where the Orchid Show was hosted the previous six days (pity we couldn’t be there a day earlier). Orchids from Papua New Guinea were also displayed during those days.

The river had breached the banks during the heavy rain the previous couple of weeks, and so there were lots of sandbags around.

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The orchids growing in the Orchid Garden.

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The gardens are absolutely stunning.

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The buildings are magnificent.

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As we were leaving, I noticed this huge barge making its way along the river towed by two tug boats.

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And then it was off to the river Kwai, where the Japanese used POW labour to build the railway and bridge. Something like 30,000 people died working in the difficult conditions.

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You will notice that there are two types of spans – round and square. Where the square spans are, these were bombed out during WWII, and later replaced with the square spans.

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It is quite a spectacular view from the bridge. When we were here in 2007 (see other blog), we saw a huge python swimming in the river. That seems much less likely now, as this place is getting much more commercialised. I can’t believe how many new buildings there are.P1010895 Stitch

We had lunch at  one of the new floating restaurants with a direct view of the bridge.

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A tourist train still uses the tracks.

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And then we went to the Tiger Temple – a park run by one of the monasteries. While they claim that the entry fee is to support the feeding of the tigers, there is a lot of development going on. The entry fee is quite expensive, and I am sure is funding more building than food for tigers.

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There are lots of different animals roaming the park. The park itself is very rocky and dry. Some of the wildlife can scarcely be seen.

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And then, of course, there are the tigers!

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And we also watched them play as evening came. This was the most spectacular part of the visit. They played non-stop for over half an hour, much of it in the water.

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We had dinner just after the sun set, in a place with the following restrictions:

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I’m not sure what the “no weapons” implies, but I certainly don’t think that carrying weapons is a big problem in Thailand. Total kilometers travelled that day was over 450. Yes, I am a slave driver when it comes to holidays.

Day 01 – Arrival in Bangkok

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We arrived at the Brisbane airport nice and early (around 7:30pm), and enjoyed a relaxing time before boarding our flight at 11:25pm. The flight from Brisbane to Singapore was uneventful.

We arrived in Singapore around 5:30am, and were welcomed by the most beautiful orchid displays in the terminal.

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When it was time to go to our gate, we headed off and somehow I made a mistake. When we arrived from Brisbane, I checked out the gate: F33. But when we went to the gate, it had SilkAir displayed, not Singapore Airlines. I wasn’t quite with it, and thought I had gone to the wrong gate. When we got to the transfer counter to identify the correct gate, we were told the flight had now closed and we would have to make alternate arrangements. It turns out that we were at the right gate, but that it was a codeshare flight. I should have known this, as this always happens. However, I can’t explain why I was confused on this occasion.

It took about an hour for us to rebook a later flight at a cost of about AU$30 and 25,000 air miles – we had to upgrade to business class, as all economy seats were taken. But that turned out a blessing in disguise, as it allowed us to sit in the Business class lounge all day – so we didn’t spend any money on food and got to use the internet in comfort.

When we arrived in Bangkok, the queue for immigration was huge.

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Once we cleared immigration and customs, Helena was already waiting for us. I left Helena and Rebecca, and went to find a rental car and to get a local SIM card for my phone.

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I had booked a Toyota Fortuner through an on-line service, but was told that they had not been able to get the car, despite me ringing them up 4 hours before our arrival. They didn’t have any large cars.

So I went to Avis, and after about 40 mins of slow and relaxed negotiation, was able to get a Toyota Fortuner at approximately half the price that Avis advertised on their web site. It is a beautiful car, and I am very happy with it. It has full time 4WD and is very economical. It also has plenty of room, which we need for travelling with five adults.

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About 30 minutes after I got the rental, Mirja and Judy arrived.

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We drove straight to our hotel, and after a quick walk to the closest 7-eleven store, got some sleep.